When the teacher seemed unkind to us

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Those who know Khun Mae for long would know that sometimes she would raise her voice in order to teach. When she is reprimanding someone …she is directing at the person’s defilements (kilesas). It is not getting carried away by emotions or out of control. But Khun Mae would reprimand and raise her voice to teach. It gives a very different feeling.

Many teachers who see potential in someone may resort to scolding and reprimanding someone. Hence, if we feel our teacher seems to be picking at our flaws and seems to reprimand us more than others- the teacher could be teaching us out of genuine compassion. It is very hard to wedge out stubborn defilements in us as most of us may be carrying these defilements for many past lives. If our ego could not take it and we walk out…. then forever we would walk-out. Forever we would give up and keep looking for new teachers, not realizing the issue is within us.

If we stay back and fight the battle with our defilements and do our best to maintain our mindfulness, in time to come- as our mindfulness and wisdom are more developed- our hearts would feel more peaceful and we would be able to differentiate between right and wrong.

Meanwhile, a good teacher, out of compassion- meanwhile would be ‘mean’ and ‘strict’. But it is not all the time- sometimes when we feel very down or on the verge of giving up, our teacher would then switched to some kindness.

Throughout the period of time before we could establish a strong grasp of our mindfulness, the mind would do like what it had always done….moving outwards, finding faults. We may start to look for faults in our teacher, misunderstanding all our teacher was doing. For example we may feel our teacher really practice favouritism- favouring one student, follower or supporter over another. Our teacher may have reasons as to why he or she chooses to do those actions.

A good teacher would spend time at a person that could be corrected and taught. If we see our teacher being kind to a person who seemed wicked, instigator and trouble maker- we should feel compassion instead. Because the person may be a lost cause and the teacher sees no use in teaching (because there are certain types of people that could not be taught). If the teacher reprimands this person, the person may turn out to very spiteful, revengeful and upon return- would go round bad mouthing a good teacher. It would bring about very heavy kamma to that person if he/she does that- to wrongly accuse a good teacher, causing misunderstanding and also depriving others of the chance of learning.

Or sometimes, the time is not right for the teacher to teach this type of person. A skilful teacher realizes this but we would not be able to see. I have seen cases where an apparently bad person gradually change (it took a few years) into someone kind after being touched by Khun Mae’s acceptance and compassion. Under normal circumstances, it is very hard for a person to really change for the better- unless they have a sudden realization or that their hearts were touched and inspired by kindness of others.

The whole time of fault finding, resentment, complaints are sadly a waste of time. It is such a rare opportunity that the condition is right and we have the chance to practice and cultivate. We are self-sabotaging ourselves when instead of looking at our own flaws, we look at others. Instead of spending more time in meditation and chanting, we spend more time sitting around complaining and gossiping about others.

Hence, a wise person would make the best use of his/her time. While one is still able, one would practice to the best of one’s abilities. Ignore all gossips, complaints and negative things. Focus on one’s practice.

Once we breakthrough in our practice, we would understand the extend of the compassion and kindness that our teacher is doing to us. Imagine during the time when our emotions have not stablilized….our teacher in our eyes were the ‘bad person’. Yet our teacher never forsaken us or chase us out. When the full realization comes in, our gratitude towards our teacher would be so enormous that words cannot express.

We realized the person we once were and how it was inconceivable comprehend how anyone like us could even change…..and how indeed our teacher’s teachings were in fact true. And as we feel so overwhelmed and bow at our teacher asking for forgiveness at the same time, apologising for all the problems that we have caused her, she would look at us compassionately and say, ‘I am willing to teach, but you must be willing to learn as well. It is because you did not give up and you have done it through your own efforts and perseverance.’

Understanding the extend of compassion and kindness in the teacher- to go through so much hardship and inconvenience to help others- and never once stop when meeting with set-backs, we would want to do what we can to help. Because we have benefited through the change- and how our hearts become truly peaceful through learning and applying the Buddha’s teachings, with the skilful means of our teacher. And we have seen as well the transformation in others- we would want to do our best to help.

One of the things that I find truly motivating is that I see some of Khun Mae’s disciples- who are very busy with career and family commitments. When they finally had the time to come and practice, they never waste their time on trivial matters. After receiving instructions from Khun Mae they would diligently practice on their own. They are focused and know very well what they want that they do not have time to go looking at flaws of others. Time is a precious commodity and they make the best use of it. As they built the foundation in their hearts, they would go back and do their best to live their lives by observing precepts.

So don’t waste our precious opportunity to practice – be it for a short or extended long periods by indulging in our worldly bad habits. In every place, so long as there are people with defilements staying in it, problems would surely arise. These problems arises also is to challenge and if we can overcome, it would strengthen our practice. We carry our habits and predisposition perhaps for aeons- and we cannot expect to just throw it away overnight. When we embark on the path of cultivation, all these defilements (including subtle and supressed emotions) would arise….in overwhelming force. If we follow and combat with mindfulness and wisdom- we can succeed. In order to establish the mindfulness- Khun Mae always teach us to start with the in and out breath.

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